Betawi language

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بهاس بتاوي
Native toIndonesia
Native speakers
5 million (2000 census)[1]
DialectsCocos Malay
Language codes
ISO 639-3bew

Betawi Malay, also known as Jakartan Malay or Batavian Malay, is the spoken language of the Betawi people in Jakarta, Indonesia. It is the native language of perhaps 5 million people; a precise number is difficult to determine due to the vague use of the name.

Betawi is a Malay-based creole, and closely related to the Malay language. The Betawi language has large amounts of Hokkien Chinese, Arabic, Portuguese, and Dutch loanwords. It replaced the earlier Portuguese-based creole of Batavia, Mardijker. The first-person pronoun gue (I or me) and second-person pronoun lu (you) and numerals such as cepek (a hundred), gopek (five hundred), and seceng (a thousand) are from Hokkien, whereas the words ente (you) and ane (me) are derived from Arabic. Cocos Malay, a Malay creole spoken in Cocos (Keeling) Islands, Australia and Sabah, Malaysia is derived from an earlier form of Betawi Malay.

Today Betawi Malay is a popular informal language in Indonesia and used as the base of Indonesian slang and commonly spoken in Jakarta TV soap operas. The name Betawi stems from Batavia, the official name of Jakarta during the era of the Dutch East Indies.


Betawi developed as a Malay-based creole whose speakers were descendants of Chinese men and Balinese women in Batavia. These descendants converted to Islam and spoke a pidgin that was later creolized, and then decreolized incorporating many elements from Javanese and Sundanese (Uri Tadmor 2013).[3]


Betawian Malay is divided into two main dialects

  • Betawi Kota dialect: Originally spoken within Jakarta with the typical strong e like (ada becomes ade).
  • Betawi Udik dialect: Originally spoken in suburban Jakarta, Tangerang, Banten, Depok, Bogor and Bekasi in West Java. It has a strong a like (ada, pronounced adah).

Another Betawi Udik variant is called Betawi Ora, which was highly influenced by Javanese.

Betawi is still spoken by the older generation in some locations on the outskirts of Jakarta, such as Kampung Melayu, Pasar Rebo, Pondok Gede, Ulujami, and Jagakarsa.[4]

There is a significant Chinese community which lives around Tangerang, called Cina Benteng, who have stopped speaking Chinese and now speak Betawian Malay.

Examples :

  • aye (kota), sayah (udik), gue (informal) : I
  • lu (informal or intimate) : you
  • iye (strong e, not schwa like Malaysian), iyah : yes
  • kagak, ora (udik variant and it is Javanese influence) : no
  • Encing mo pegi ke mane? : Where will you go, uncle?
  • Dagangan aye udeh bures, dah : My stuff has been sold out.

The ending of every word that ends with an "a" is pronounced "e" such as in "net" in Betawinese language. The "e" is pronounced different than the "e" spoken by Malaysian Malays.



All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

Bahasa Indonesia[edit]

Semua orang dilahirkan merdeka dan mempunyai martabat dan hak-hak yang sama. Mereka dikaruniai akal dan hati nurani dan hendaknya bergaul sesama lain dalam semangat persaudaraan.

Bahasa Betawi[edit]

Semue orang ntu dilahirin bebas ame punye martabat dan hak-hak yang same. Mereka ntu dikasih akal ame ati nurani dan kudu bergaul satu ame lainnye dalem semangat persaudaraan.


  1. ^ Betawi at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Betawi". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. ^ Tadmor, Uri (2013). "On the Origin of the Betawi and their Language". ISMIL 17 conference talk.
  4. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-12-03. Retrieved 2013-11-23.

External links[edit]